United States District Court, W.D. New York
RICHARD J. ARCARA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Joseph Jackson, a prisoner confined at Attica Correctional
Facility, has filed a Second Amended Complaint. Docket No.
16. Plaintiff has also moved for assignment of counsel
(Docket No. 17), and executed a Peralta waiver
(Docket No. 18). Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional
rights were violated when Defendants falsely accused him of
being involved in a riot at Five Points Correctional
Facility, assaulted him in its aftermath, denied him medical
treatment, and denied him due process of law at his
disciplinary hearing, as more specifically detailed in the
Second Amended Complaint. For the reasons discussed below,
some of Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, while some
will proceed to service.
1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(a) of 28 U.S.C. require the Court to
conduct an initial screening of this Second Amended
Complaint. In evaluating the Second Amended Complaint, the
Court must accept as true all of the factual allegations and
must draw all inferences in Plaintiff's favor. See
Larkin v. Savage, 318 F.3d 138, 139 (2d Cir. 2003) (per
curiam); King v. Simpson, 189 F.3d 284, 287 (2d Cir.
1999). While “a court is obliged to construe [pro
se] pleadings liberally, particularly when they allege
civil rights violations, ” McEachin v.
McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004), even
pleadings submitted pro se must meet the notice
requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Wynder v. McMahon, 360 F.3d 73 (2d Cir.
2004). “Specific facts are not necessary, ” and
the plaintiff “need only ‘give the defendant fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 93, (2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted); see also Boykin v.
Keycorp, 521 F.3d 202, 213 (2d Cir 2008) (discussing
pleading standard in pro se cases after
Twombly -“even after Twombly,
dismissal of a pro se claim as insufficiently pleaded is
appropriate only in the most unsustainable of cases.”).
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
"To state a valid claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the
plaintiff must allege that the challenged conduct (1) was
attributable to a person acting under color of state law, and
(2) deprived the plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States." Whalen v. County of Fulton, 126 F.3d
400, 405 (2d. Cir. 1997) (citing Eagleston v. Guido,
41 F.3d 865, 875-76 (2d Cir.1994)). Based on the allegations
of the Second Amended Complaint, the Court finds that some of
Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and 1915A(b) while others may
proceed to service.
Allegations. Plaintiff alleges that he was assaulted, denied
medical care, and denied due process at his prison
disciplinary hearing. Plaintiff states that he had been in
the yard on October 21, 2012 at Five Points when a riot
occurred (Docket No. 16, p. 6). Inmates were told to line up
along the fence, and order was restored. Plaintiff argued
with John Doe 1, denying involvement in the riot, noting that
his lip was not bleeding. (Id.). A sergeant directed
that Plaintiff be separated from the other inmates
nonetheless. Plaintiff alleges that he was placed in flex
cuffs and beaten by both John Doe 1 and John Doe 2.
(Id. at 6-7).
arrival in the Special Housing Unit (“SHU”),
Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Jane Doe (Id. at 7).
Plaintiff complained of rib and shoulder injuries to
Defendant Jane Doe who “never took immediate action as
if to say - you don't look hurt so you'll be
fine” and provided no treatment. (Id. at 7-8).
Plaintiff references Exhibit D as proof that, when he was
transferred to Southport Correctional Facility, he was taken
to an outside hospital for “rib and kidney
diagnosis”. (Id. at 9, 23). Exhibit D
indicates that Plaintiff's primary care provider had
recommended a renal ultrasound, and that the recommendation
would be considered to determine medical necessity. Plaintiff
states that he “was later taken to an outside hospital
for rib and kidney diagnosis.” (Id.).
Plaintiff's disciplinary hearing, he states that he was
denied access to video footage of the riot which would have
shown that he was not involved. Plaintiff alleges that the
video was reviewed by other staff members, but that Defendant
Colvin falsely claimed that there was no video (Id.
8). Plaintiff received 40 months in the Special Housing Unit
(SHU) and 36 months loss of good time. These were later
modified to 24 months SHU and 24 months loss of good time.
and Peralta. Preliminarily, in addition to time
spent in the Special Housing Unit and attendant sanctions,
Plaintiff has lost good time credits. This impacts the
overall length of his confinement. It is well settled that
when a litigant makes a constitutional challenge to a
determination which affects the overall length of his
imprisonment, the “sole federal remedy is a writ of
habeas corpus.” Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S.
475, 500 (1973). See also Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477 (1994) (an inmate's claim for damages resulting from
due process violations during his criminal trial was not
cognizable under ' 1983 until the conviction or sentence
was invalidated on direct appeal or by a habeas corpus
petition). In Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641
(1997), the Supreme Court “made clear that
Heck's favorable termination rule applies to
challenges made under ' 1983 to procedures used in
disciplinary proceedings that deprived a prisoner of
good-time credits.” Peralta v. Vasquez, 467
F.3d 98, 103 (2d Cir. 2006) (citing and discussing
Edwards). Heck's requirement of a
favorable termination, however, does not preclude a '
1983 claim challenging sanctions that do not affect the
overall length of confinement. See Muhammad v.
Close, 540 U.S. 749, 754 (2004); Jenkins v.
Haubert, 179 F.3d 19, 21 (2d Cir.1999). In
Peralta, the Second Circuit addressed the impact of
the Heck requirement on claims that challenge
“mixed sanctions” (some affecting the overall
length of confinement and others that do not), and held that:
a prisoner subject to such mixed sanctions can proceed
separately, under ' 1983, with a challenge to the
sanctions affecting his conditions of confinement without
satisfying the favorable termination rule, but that he
can only do so if he is willing to forgo once and for all any
challenge to any sanctions that affect the duration of his
confinement. In other words, the prisoner must abandon,
not just now, but also in any future proceeding, any claims
he may have with respect to the duration of his confinement
that arise out of the proceeding he is attacking in his
current ' 1983 suit.
Peralta, 467 F.3d at 104 (emphasis in original).
has provided the Court with a waiver forgoing once and for
all any challenge to any sanctions that affect the duration
of his confinement (Docket No. 18). Plaintiff's §
1983 claims regarding due process are therefore reviewed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A.
only constitutional violation that could occur under the
facts alleged in the Second Amended Complaint is if Plaintiff
were not provided adequate due process during the
disciplinary proceeding. In such a case, Plaintiff's
claim is not based on the truth or falsity of the testimony
but instead on the conduct of the hearing itself. Plaintiff
alleges that a video of the riot existed, was reviewed by
staff at the facility, and that Defendant Colvin nonetheless
denied Plaintiff access to the video at his hearing, claiming
falsely that there ...